SA's Future News 2014 winners announced

Up to 300 young people aged between 16 and 19 will take part in the Aye Write! Future News International Young Journalists' Conference in April. (Reuters)

Up to 300 young people aged between 16 and 19 will take part in the Aye Write! Future News International Young Journalists' Conference in April. (Reuters)

The British Council, in partnership with the arts and culture department and the Mail & Guardian, are excited to announce the winners of the Future News 2014 Competition in South Africa.

Mikaela Thakur (17), Baxolise Mfidi (19), and Kelebogile Mojanaga (18) have been selected as the winners of the Future News Competition 2014. The Future News Competition in South Africa was open to the next generation of young journalists aged between 16 and 19 years old. Over 50 entries were received and 12 individuals were shortlisted from across South Africa.

Mikaela, Baxolise, and Kelebogile will represent South Africa in Glasgow, Scotland, where they will meet young journalists in a unique opportunity to connect to the Commonwealth Games through the Glasgow 2014 Cultural Programme. A hundred days before the Games begin, up to 300 young people aged between 16 and 19 will take part in the Aye Write! Future News International Young Journalists' Conference from April 14 to April 16.

There they will enjoy master classes from some of the world's leading journalists on a range of subjects including press freedom and ethical reporting, technical skills, investigating features, research, and using digital technology and social media as a journalism tool.

Over 14 countries including Jamaica, Malaysia, Mauritius, Mozambique, Pakistan, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Zambia and the UK Home Nations will take part in the conference, which will be held at Mitchell Library in Glasgow.

British Council South Africa country director Colm McGivern said of South Africa's participation: "These winners are the future of news in South Africa – their talent, commitment and journalistic ability is clear to see, and I've every confidence that they'll shine out from their peers during their time in the UK. Any media organisation that operates online, in print or in broadcasting will be lucky to have this talent on their team. I'm delighted that the British Council has been able to meet them and help them connect with other Commonwealth journalists in Glasgow."

"Former president Nelson Mandela once said, 'A critical, independent and investigative press is the lifeblood of any democracy'. These young aspiring journalists represent the lifeblood of our future and democracy. We wish them the wisdom to fully appreciate the value the Future News programme offers to them so that they will return to South Africa and implement the ideals the late Madiba so fervently spoke of," said commissioner general of the arts and culture department's South African Season, Bongani Tembe.

M&G editor-in-chief Chris Roper said: "In many parts of the world, journalists are one of the last lines of defence between freedom of information and encroaching government control. In developing nations, this is essentially a young person's war, given the importance of digital media to the fight. The training provided by Future News 2014 is essential to understanding the ethical obligations and technical possibilities of our industry, and for inspiring young journalists to become masters of their craft".

Mikaela Thakur, a 17-year-old from Durban Girls High School, who was selected as one of the winners of the Future News Competition in South Africa, said: "To be given this opportunity is truly an honour, especially for a young person like me. This is a life-changing experience and I'm so excited about meeting other aspiring young writers from around the world. Thank you to the British Council of South Africa, the arts and culture department, and the Mail & Guardian".


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